So, some lessons for the step-parent: (Some of these thoughts are based on How to Win as Step-Family by Visher and Visher.)
1. Don’t come on too strong, overwhelming step-children and setting up expectations you can’t meet. Hold back and let your step-children approach you.
2. Acknowledge that the relationship between you and your step-children is just forming. If you say you love them right off the bat, they often won’t believe you and may discredit other things you say.
3. Remember that step-children will be different from children raised by you. If you try to make them over in your children’s image, it will get in the way of developing a good relationship with them. Household rules simply can’t make a person take a new shape. Often step-children do eventually absorb some of the new patterns you want them to adapt–but at their own speed.
4. Find out what things your step-children like and try to make them available, e.g. a basketball net or a favorite drink.
5. Do things with step-children alone without their parent–something you both like and are good at.
6. It’s just a fact that you will feel differently about your step-children than you do about your own children. And your step-children will feel differently about you than they do about their own parents. Time can produce a very special relationship if you accept that feelings are different in the beginning and simply cannot be forced.
7. If you are the remarried parent, accept that your reactions to your child and your spouse’s reactions to your “darling 6-year-old” will be different. Support your spouse as s/he begins to relate to your children.